Two recent articles at the Harvard Business Review website, hbr.com, argue strongly in favor of corporate wellness programs. Backed with reliable data and logical conclusions from a study by the Rand Corporation, Rajiv Kumar, in his article In Defense of Corporate Wellness Programs, argues that such programs are directly related to the success of the company, with some 80% of the workers of mid- to large-sized companies having access to a company sponsored wellness program.

A corporate wellness program can boost productivity & cut costs

Arguing against a prior article at hbr.com, which claimed such programs had little benefit to the bottom line of a company, Kumar claimed, “According to the RAND study, the most common offerings — available in roughly 75% of all wellness initiatives — are on-site vaccinations and “lifestyle management” programs for smoking cessation, weight loss, good nutrition, and fitness. In short, companies want to reduce the risk that their workers will get the flu, develop lung cancer, or suffer from the many debilitating conditions linked to overweight and a sedentary lifestyle.”

Kumar goes on to argue that, while the initial motive for instating a wellness plan may have been cost cutting, and effort to reduce the cost of employee health care programs, recent data show that a well-designed wellness program has a direct effect on employee productivity. This, of course, makes a great deal of sense; that a healthier workforce would be more productive. And, let us not forget, the cost savings for employee health care are still there. From the Rand study itself, “More than 60 percent [of employers] stated that their program reduced health care cost, and around four-fifths reported that it decreased absenteeism and increased productivity.”

The entire organization benefits from corporate wellness programs

In the second article, titled What Great Corporate Wellness Programs Do by Cortney Rowan and Karuna Harishanker, the argument in favor of corporate wellness programs is far greater importance and scope. “Not only are wellness programs valuable for the organizations and their employees,” the authors wrote, “They are our biggest hope for fixing a national health crisis.”
The argument become even more compelling when the authors focus their argument on the workplace as the most efficient and effective means for changing the workers’ mindset about health and wellness; focusing their thinking on healthy living rather than simply avoiding and/or treating illness. “Thanks to their reach and influence on employees,” they argue, “workplaces have a unique power to reframe the mindset around health itself — from one of sickness to wellness. With 150 million Americans going to work every day, corporate America is not only in the best position to change our nation’s health, but has a responsibility to do so.”

Backed by two years’ research into the efficacy of wellness programs for the US Defense Department, during which they, “researched over 20 award-winning and recognized workplace wellness systems,” Rowan and Harishanker make a compelling argument that such programs do far more than cut costs for the company; but also, “The more proactive stance toward health they have established feeds off of itself and enhances employee lives.”

Clearly, the trend toward wellness programs in the workplace is justified, as well as being cost-effective. If you would like to explore the viability of a corporate wellness program for your company, get in touch with me today for your own Corporate Wellness Assessment.

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